Wharton MBA for Executives

Random musings, diatribes, and possibly curious insights of former students of the Wharton MBA for Executives (San Francisco) program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Wharton MBA for Executives header image 1

Update 2013

March 21st, 2013 by RVD · No Comments

Ok it’s been a few years since I’ve updated this blog. Lots of changes for me.

In July 2012, I accepted a job with Amazon and moved up to Seattle!

It’s been a lot of fun so far and I love it up here…both Amazon and the city of Seattle.

I am still in touch with the folks in class 34 and I still try to stay active with the Wharton SF community when they visit Seattle for admissions events, etc.

It has now been 2.5 years since I graduated. Time certainly flies. Wharton has also changed a lot. The Wharton SF campus is in a nice new building (that I have still never visited). However, I think most of the Professors are still the same.

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ No CommentsTags: After Wharton

Ben Titera

June 27th, 2011 by RVD · No Comments

It is with a heavy heart that I report the first loss of our class 34 family. Ben Titera passed away last Saturday in Utah in an accident with his personal aircraft (powered parachute). Ben was an awesome person and one of the brightest members of our class.

I worked with Ben on one project for our Real Estate elective. We wrote a paper about Portland, OR and analyzed the city’s economy, jobs, corporations, population, etc. I know way too much about Portland, OR…a city that I have never visited because of Ben.

Ben, I know that I speak on behalf of our entire class when I tell you that you are sorely missed. We will all miss your trademark smile, wink, and sense of humor.

A youtube video of us playing dodgeball: http://www.youtube.com/rvd90277#p/u/12/86wRpG8epM4

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ No CommentsTags: After Wharton

Happy New Year!

January 10th, 2011 by RVD · No Comments

Happy New Year everyone! It’s a new year and the first year where I am an official Wharton alumnus. Everyone says that the first 2 years post MBA is key so I definitely plan to make some career changes in 2011. After 2 years, unfortunately the MBA does get a bit stale so strike while the iron is HOT HOT HOT!

Lots of random things and plans going on so we’ll see how things go.

New company starting up on 2/1 is still in the plans. We’re finalizing the fundraising process right now and looking at office space. 2/1 will be tight but I think we’ll get it done!

I’m interviewing at 1 company right now…if I get this job, I’m not sure what I’ll do. With the new company starting on 2/1…vs. this new job…I don’t know. But I’ll wait and see if I get an offer first and then decide (after all, why lose sleep over it…I might not get an offer anyway right?)

I predict 2011 to be a great big year for Class 34!

And congrats to Class 35…this is your year to graduate!

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ No CommentsTags: After Wharton

coming soon…my new gig.

December 16th, 2010 by RVD · 1 Comment

2/1. that’s the planned start date for my new company. i’m raising some angel investment right now. i’ve raised $600k so far and want to raise between $750k-$1m to get started.

2/1 is when i plan to start. 5/1 is when i plan to have our beta site live. 8/1 is when i plan to start making money.

it’s coming.

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ 1 CommentTags: After Wharton

Facebook Vs. Google…head on collision?

December 13th, 2010 by RVD · 2 Comments

Well, since there isn’t really a lot of school stuff to write about anymore, I suppose I can use this blog as an area to just write about stuff that comes to mind (things that I believe will be of at least some interest).

Anyway, the buzz for the past few weeks has been around “The Social Network”, a movie about Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. I went and watched the movie and thought it was definitely entertaining. I did some searches online afterwards and found that while it wasn’t entirely accurate, it was still an entertaining and interesting movie.

The movie revolves around a court case discussing the merits of who had the idea for Facebook, etc…blah blah blah. I have said this once and I’ll say it again…ideas don’t matter. Yup, you heard that right, ideas don’t matter. Everyone has an idea and whatever idea you have, there are other people with the same idea. Ideas don’t differentiate anything. VCs never fund ideas (despite what they might lead you to believe). It’s all about execution. Of course this isn’t 100% true because if you have a unique idea and can get a patent on it, then yeah…it can be valuable. But to think that the Winklevoss twins had the idea first and then Mark stole it, etc…it’s laughable. As the Harvard President Larry Summers told them in the movie…”Everyone at Harvard is inventing something. Harvard undergraduates believe that inventing a job is better than finding a job. So I suggest again that the two of you come up with a new new project.” lol.

But the real question in my mind is around Facebook and google. FB and google are clearly 2 of the top internet companies in the world and as we all know, the world doesn’t work very well when there are 2 super powers. Pretty soon…there will be 1.

I’m just a regular, simple guy with some random thoughts and musings…but what do I think about all of this? I think that in 5 years or so, either FB or google (but not both) will clearly dominate the internet.

If I were the CEO of Facebook, what would I do? If I were the CEO of Google, what would I do? Well, this is your lucky day…I’m gonna tell you.

FACEBOOK. Sure the company is profitable but the profits are a joke. These profits from advertising is just chump change and will continue to be chump change. Facebook already does photos, videos, messages, newsfeed, status updates (via web/mobile), etc. But the one thing that Facebook doesn’t do is what google does well…and that’s search / advertising. I think Facebook need to take google head on and do exactly that. That’s where the real money is at.

1) FB should build a search engine. You know the top search box where you can type in stuff? Well that should be a search engine that searches the web and Facebook. But you know what? It should take the activities of your friends (social) into context when showing the search results. For example, if I search for the word “java”, FB already knows that I’m a software engineer, graduated from Cal, have an MBA, work in the internet space, etc…and show me links for java programming apps, java SDK, etc. It should also show articles that my friends have written and articles that my friends have clicked (because they showed interest). However, for a college student studying philosophy with friends who work in coffee shops, the FB search result should show links to coffee, coffee makers, brands of coffee, jobs at starbucks, etc. In short, FB should embed social and personalization into search to give great results. This is something that google CAN’T do at this level because FB simply has so much more of my personal and social information that google.

2) FB should build adsense. FB adsense would integrate social into their ad platform to show better and more relevant ads. FB should show ads that are relevant to my web surfing patterns but also the patterns of my friends. If my friends are all signing up to go to CES next week in Las Vegas, I should be seeing ads for Vegas because I’ll probably be joining them! This isn’t about what I’m seeing on the page but more about what my friends are seeing on their pages! Better ads obviously result in higher CPMs so websites will flock to use FB adsense over Google adsense.

Of course FB should continue developing their other areas of the company such as the platform, newsfeed, profile, etc. But to make real money and WIN, they need to go into search and adsense.

GOOGLE. Google is still the leader of the internet. They have amassed so much information about the internet behavior of the world that they can continue to improve upon their search algorithm. PageRank was a great start Larry, but the real value now is in the data to continue to iterate upon the algorithm.

1) Get into social. Orkut sucks. MySpace sucks. Diaspora is cool but still sucks (as of now at least). Google can build social networking and can build it right. Google social should center around your life on the internet. Relationships online are much more complex than simply having “friends.” You have different groups and sets of friends such as “high school friends”, “college friends”, “co-workers”, “business networking acquaintances”, “random friends from clubbing”, “church friends”, etc. These aren’t simply groups of friends because people intersect amongst these various relationships. Google social needs to expand and build upon a true social graph that spans multiple websites and multiple social networking applications bringing sites like Facebook, myspace, linkedin, your gmail address book, your android phone, google calendar, etc. into one area. This complex web of data should then be used to power….SEARCH! Applying social + personalization into search results will take google beyond anything that Facebook can do. FB also doesn’t have the reach that google has to do something like that. This is how google can continue to win!

Focus. I know GOOG has so much money that they don’t know what to do with it. They’ll invest in anything just to spend some money…it’s sort of like Brewster’s Millions when he starts investing in icebergs. Rather than spreading google money every which way, they should focus on building (not buying) more around social.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ 2 CommentsTags: After Wharton

who says Wharton isn’t entrepreneurial???

December 3rd, 2010 by RVD · No Comments

Of course we are. Wharton is known for finance and wall street but we’re also very good at marketing, entrepreneurship, etc. In fact, one of our Professors Len Lodish was featured yesterday on a blog at forbes.com!

2 exits in 1 month? That’s better than most VCs!

click here to read: linky

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ No CommentsTags: After Wharton

recruiting time!!!

October 12th, 2010 by RVD · No Comments

It’s time for recruiting season again! This is the time when all of you readers of this blog can actually come out and meet some current students, alumni, administrative staff, etc. We host the BEST receptions at the BEST locations so come on out if you’re interested in applying for our upcoming class.

We have recruiting events all over the United States. If you come to the ones in LA, maybe I’ll meet you there as well!

Schedule: linky

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ No CommentsTags: After Wharton

groupon?

October 6th, 2010 by RVD · No Comments

A few days ago, I read this article written by Wharton Professor Eric Clemons.

http://www.businessinsider.com/want-to-copy-groupon-read-this-first-2010-10

It’s about groupon, group buying, etc. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because of the massive success of groupon and their reported $1.35b valuation. I’ve been thinking about them in the context of our strategy class that we took with Professor Jeff Dyer.

The clear leaders of this space is groupon. They have the largest market share, best deals, network effects, most email addresses (users)…so the highest valuation. However, you have a lot of copycats such as livingsocial, buywithme, socialbuy, dealpop, kgbdeals, frilogy, dailyq, etc.

History lesson. Group buying is nothing new. It existed before the internet and even after the internet, you had big sites such as woot, some reverse auction sites (where the more people bought something the lower the price would go), etc. Credit cards tried to get into group buying in the 1990s for their card members, etc.

But let’s examine groupon more closely today.

“What”
Groupon has a fairly simple business model where they split the profits 50/50 with the merchant. So for example, if the merchant gives away $20 worth of food for $10, the customer pays groupon $10, the merchant gets $5 and groupon gets $5. The merchant gets some buzz, advertising, and customers out of the deal. Groupon gets $$$.

“Why they win”
Groupon wins because of network effects. They were the first big site in the marketplace so they got a lot of users. They are able to leverage this huge user base into getting top quality deals because the merchants know that their deals will be viewed by the largest audience.

Since they are able to get the most attractive deals (when GAP had the groupon for $50 worth of clothing for $25 it was an $11m day for groupon!), it’s also the best site for customers. GAP is only going to do a deal with the leaders.

“Barriers to Entry”
This is actually where I think groupon will meet their demise. Sure they have everything that I wrote about in the “why they win” section. But it’s just too easy for another site to copy them. I can start my own group buying site and have it up and live if I work hard for a weekend. It’s just too easy to copy the technology because there isn’t any technology here.

The second problem is user/brand loyalty…there is none. Nobody on groupon actually care about groupon. They only care about the deals that they get. So when another site comes out, they have no real problem signing up at another site to get another deal. It’s just too easy for the consumer to shift loyalties. If another site simply said “join our site and get $5 to spend on your first purchase”, they’ll probably become the largest group buying site. It’s just that easy.

The third problem is in differentiation. It’s very hard to differentiate yourself in this space. These deals are all very similar (restaurants, spas, etc.).

I actually have a close friend who runs his own independent coffee shop. He advertised on groupon ($20 gift certificate for $10) so he got $5 for each $20 gift certificate that he gave away. It’s not a money maker but most marketing efforts aren’t necessarily directly money makers. For example, if he places an ad in the newspaper, it costs him money for the ad. He views groupon as a great way to market his coffee shop. They asked him to advertise again and he might…next year. He wants to space out the groupons a little bit. He said that he had a massive influx of customers on the week of the groupon and then it died out. Financially it’s not that bad because he gets $5 and some customers will never redeem the groupon, some who do redeem and get the $20 gift card will lose the gift card or not use all of it, etc. So it’s not that bad but it’s not a money maker regardless.

However, there is a problem with groupon users. He said that even though these users were paying $10 for a $20 gift certificate, a few of them would still complain regardless. A lot of reviews of groupon restaurants in yelp start out along the lines of “I only came here because I had a groupon…..food was ok but not that great…good thing I got 50% off…I won’t be coming here again.” Is that the type of user that you want to attract to your establishment? Groupon makes it clear that their users should tip based on the full price of the meal (not the groupon discounted price) but I also fear that many users don’t follow this either.

I predict that we’ll see a lot more groupon copycats over the next year and in 1-2 years, I actually think that another company will arise and overtake groupon. The competition is just too fierce and there are still many other ways to spin this in a way that makes it more useful. Any time you have this much competition, the incumbent is likely to get overthrown.

As for my ideas in this space…I actually do have one (it’s not that ingenious or anything like that) but I’ll write about that some other day.

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ No CommentsTags: After Wharton

WSJ Ranking for EMBA

September 30th, 2010 by RVD · No Comments

We’re #1.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704206804575467440809287142.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_Careers_EXECUTIVEMBARANKINGS5_2

In 2008 (the last year that the WSJ came out with EMBA rankings), we were #2. It’s nice to move up to #1 where we belong.

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ No CommentsTags: After Wharton

US News Rankings - Wharton undergrad #1 (again)

August 17th, 2010 by RVD · 1 Comment

The 2011 rankings are out for undergrad. Grad school rankings are not available yet.

Congrats to Wharton undergrad for again being ranked the #1 undergraduate business school in the country!

Overall rankings have Penn at #5 (tied with Stanfurd): http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/national-universities-rankings

Wharton undergrad ranking #1: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/spec-business

(posted by RVD)

Bookmark this article!

FacebookDiggDel.icio.usTechnoratiSlashDotYahooGoogleRedditSquidoo

→ 1 CommentTags: After Wharton